GETTING TO KNOW XOLANI MAYEKISO


Xolani Mayekiso is fondly known as Thato from the Mzansi Magic drama series The Queen. Here he tells us what he loves the most about acting and his plans for the future.


He is a humble soul, who is deeply passionate about his craft. He’s become a force to be reckoned with and impressively transitioned his character ‘Thato’ from a drug dealing bad boy into a well-respected business owner. He’s won the hearts of millions of fans and followers who watch him every day during prime time on Mzansi magic.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up in the Free State. I was raised by my mom who was a single parent together with my grandmother in Harrismith. I attended Harriston High School, and it was just after completing matric that I decided to come to Johannesburg to pursue my acting career.


IS ACTING SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO?
Definitely. I started the traditional way, which is being part of school plays, theatre drama and melodramas and from that I discovered that I want to make this my career. I then decided to go and study because there was no way my mother would allow me to pursue something without getting the proper education needed for it.

WHERE DID YOU STUDY?
I studied at AFDA for three years, obtained my degree in 2014 and subsequently met my agent right after. It was important for me as well to refine my craft and get myself informed about the arts and the creative space I was in. Education is important because it positions us in whatever we do, and it’s a nice thing to have on your CV because it shows that your career is something you have invested in.


HOW DID YOUR ROLE ON THE QUEEN COME ABOUT?
I had been part of smallanyana productions before, but The Queen was the biggest space I was in by far. The show really catapulted my career. Actually, I initially auditioned for the role of Gift Mabuza but Thabang Molaba who is from my hometown landed the role. I was disappointed at not getting the part, but it was great because at least my homie got it. Two months down the line I received another call to audition for the role of Thato. I decided to give it a shot even though I was nervous because I had lost the role of Gift Mabuza before and I didn’t know where I went wrong with that. A week later I landed the role and was part of the cast.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I wake up every morning to go and do what I love. I work with incredible people around me and I am forever inspired. But what really makes me happy is having to give my all and in turn inspire those that are from the same background of that character I play. To positively influence young black men, that gets me out of bed every morning!


WHAT IS A SPECIAL MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
I was approached by a young man at a festival some time ago. He came to me in a very humble manner not wanting any pictures or too much of my time. He wanted to tell me that I helped change and shape his life. The role of Thato and him transitioning from a kid who did drugs and was on the wrong side of the law, to being a respectable businessman, really influenced his life’s decisions and how he now sees the world. All he wanted to say to me was say thank you. For me that makes it all worth it! It means I’m not only performing for myself but to an audience that is attentively watching and positive things come out of it.

WHAT LESSON HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM BEING AN ACTOR?
In the beginning I just wanted to act and to be on stage. I had no idea of the impact that stories such as these have on people. Going forward I have told myself to never let the ball drop because I have an influence over people’s lives. My journey has given me an edge to really want to do more, and has changed my perspective of what it means to be an actor.



HOW DOES THATO DIFFER FROM YOU?
Playing the role of someone for a long time makes you sort of become like that person in some ways. For me, Xolani is quite the opposite of Thato. I’m into motorbikes, I’m a rider, an adrenaline junkie and Thato is nothing of the sort. But I relate to him because he is from eKasi, and the typical guy next door. His level of maturity has grown a lot on the show and he now has a good head on his shoulders. Those are the traits that have influenced me as Xolani. There is a lot of good I get from portraying Thato because I learn from him every day. Thato has now turned out to be my bestie! LOL

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AT WORK?
Covid-19 and lockdown set us back six weeks from schedule and production had to be increased by shooting two units a day. We are really pushing hard so that we at least have a December holiday. My schedule has been really tight and we’re making up for all the lost time during the lockdown. It’s a bit challenging at the moment, but I’m not complaining because I get to do what I love every single day.

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WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER ON THE SHOW?
It has to be ‘Babomncane Brutus Shakespeare’ for sure. Themba Ndaba is a brilliant performer, I love seeing him transform into his character.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
I see myself running a theatre in Harrismith, for young people who want to enter the industry but have limited resources. I would love see that happen because Harrismith is very close to my heart. I grew up without a mentor who would guide me and show me which direction to take. This theatre will hopefully give others a place to go and perform with proper guidance from experts. I want bridge that gap in eKasi and in turn make a difference in someone else’s life.

TELL US 5 THINGS ABOUT YOU.
  1. I love the outdoors
  2. I’m into extreme sports, I love riding my motorbike.
  3. I’m a dog lover
  4. I’m free spirited.
  5. I have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter who loves the outdoors, just like the daddy.

WHAT MESSAGE OF ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ACTORS?
Find what you do best and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t be overwhelmed by what’s out there, rather look within for answers. In varsity, we were taught that performance is from the inside out. Never take anything from the outside world and internalise it. Greater is he that is within me, than he that is in the world. That is where God and your soul lives.



GETTING TO KNOW XOLANI MAYEKISO GETTING TO KNOW XOLANI MAYEKISO Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on November 09, 2020 Rating: 5
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